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Tremont Street, Boston, Massachusetts

During the last decade of the 19th century there were 5 well respected manufacturers of Banjos, doing business between # 161 and #187 Tremont Street, Boston, a distance of about 750 ft between them.

Pelton #161

Robinson #170

Cole #179

Gatcombe #181

Fairbanks #187

A little further into town at #86, part of the Tremont Temple Baptist Church, was Thompson and Odell.

The Church was made famous 30 year earlier when there, in 1867, Charles Dickens read from Pickwick Papers and a Christmas Carol in a 2-hour recital.

T&O moved into # 523 Washington Street (parallel to Tremont Street) about the time of the 1893 fire when the Church burned down; Cole moved into #786 Washington Street a little further out of town, close to OR Chase.

Is it any wonder that all these makers banjos bear striking similarities? they probably sat in the pub on a Friday night discussing their new ideas, playing their instruments.

No doubt the different makers had specialities and other skills like engraving, plating and fret cutting, possibly subcontracted and surely not all of them were making the metal pots patented by O.R. Chase in 1882, where he was well established at #698 Washington Street.

In 1856 Ira Chase and H Lincoln Chase of Chase Brothers and Co., published a book on patent ornamental woven or wrought iron railings, entrance gates, and window guards: Their “warerooms” were at 383 Washington Street. Was O. R. a son? With significant metal working skills was he capitalising on the latest fashion in musical instruments? Was the Chase manufacturing facility at #698?


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